India will not remain India if it is polarised and communalised, Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed who runs a coalition government with the BJP told Hindustan Times.
The 79-year-old patriarch of the Peoples Democratic Party described the petrol bomb attack on Kashmiri truckers and the lynching of Mohammad Ikhlaq in Dadri as “assault on the secular fibre of India”.
“It is not just about killing one individual called Ikhlaq. The attacks have shaken not just the country but the conscience of the country.”
The chief minister sought to remind the BJP that the politics of communalism is a dangerous game.
Recalling the demolition of Babri Masjid in 1992, Sayeed said: “India is a diverse country and its people have repeatedly rejected all efforts to polarise it along religious lines. After the Babri demolition, the BJP lost power in UP, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. Ikhlaq today has become a powerful symbol of our diversity. India is a living, kicking democracy and it will even give a message to PM Modi.”
Sayeed reminded Narendra Modi that he won the election on the twin slogans of development and good governance.
If Modi stayed committed to this, his vision will see him stay in power for the next decade, he said. “I see no alternative to Modi for the next 10 years. When I met him recently, I told him of what the Gujarat Muslims told me when I was there, that Indian Muslims will succeed if I succeed because I am the one who represents the only Muslim-dominated state in the country.”
Sayeed, clearly disturbed by the murders of Ikhlaq and trucker Zahid Ahmed Bhat in Udhampur, maintained that he did the right thing by agreeing to form a government with the BJP because that was the only way to represent both regions of Jammu and Kashmir and bridge the divide.
But he minced no words to criticise a BJP chief minister, Haryana’s Manohar Lal Khattar, for his recent remarks that Muslims could live in India if they gave up eating beef. “As an Indian Muslim, I don’t accept what Khattar says. Neither I nor the people of India like fundamentalism.”
Sayeed admitted that daughter Mehbooba Mufti was uncomfortable with utterances of senior BJP leaders but sought to play it down. “Checks and balances lie not only with me but the people of India. Modi has a broad vision and I think he has sent a message down the line that polarisation cannot make India a great country.”